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Library would lose $15K in state budget

Fifteen thousand dollars may not seem like a big portion of a $2 million budget, but its loss could adversely affect the Clark County Public Library.

That’s the approximate amount of state aid the local library stands to lose in the one-year austerity budget the state legislature passed April 1.

CCPL Director Julie Maruskin said sudden funding reductions for special purpose governmental entities such as library taxing districts can affect investment ratings, not only of those entities, but also of the communities.

“It’s essentially a set of building blocks, and when any blocks at the bottom are removed, it begins to shake the foundation at a certain point,” she said.

Not all public libraries are funded by taxing districts. The Knott County Public Library in Hindman, for example, receives funding from the Knott County Fiscal Court.

The state budget includes no direct aid to public libraries this year, and that would especially hit small community libraries hard, Maruskin said.

“There’s no doubt that it will hurt public libraries, especially the smaller ones, and those smaller libraries are such vital parts of their communities,” she said. “It will hurt, and their hurt will hurt everyone.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported March 10 that the $2.5 million in direct aid for libraries that was included in an earlier version of the House budget would reduce the Powell County Public Library’s budget by $13,000, which supplements $275,000 raised locally. It is about the equivalent of that library’s internet service cost or its electric bill.

State Rep. Les Yates, R-Winchester, said the budget is still a “moving target,” but there will many reductions as a result of the effect of the coronavirus on the economy.

“It’s just tough for everybody right now,” he said.

The state budget did include funding for library construction, but no per capita grants.

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado said most public libraries in the state have reserve funds that could help offset the loss in state grants, but admitted it would hurt a few county libraries more.

Because of the reduction in revenue from the economic shutdown and the extension of the income tax deadline to July 15, which means the state will lose two months of revenue, the legislature had to tighten its belt. The one-year budget, which may be unprecedented, also gives the governor some flexibility for spending on programs such as unemployment benefits and other aid to families and businesses hurt by the pandemic, Alvarado said.

“I think we had to take a look at it realistically,” he said.

The General Assembly will reconvene April 14 and consider overriding any vetoes of bills by Gov. Andy Beshear.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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